As Bdaily’s Northern Powerhouse series continues to give the business people of Yorkshire the opportunity to voice their opinions on the the government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, we speak with Graham Sadler, managing director of Sheffield Business Park.
Hi Graham, so what do you think the Northern Powerhouse will do for Yorkshire?
The Northern Powehouse provides an ideal platform for the region to work as one with the goal to punch its weight in the UK and global economy. However, to do this the Northern City Regions will need to work together and identify individual area strengths and work to these.
Sheffield City Region is already a global leader in advanced manufacturing and research; a prime example being the Advanced Manufacturing Park with the AMRC brand now expanding to other regions and globally with its roots firmly in Sheffield.
The key to delivery will be joined up thinking together with Central Government commitment to devolution and financial support to make it work.
Key projects should be identified and in the Sheffield City Region I strongly believe these should be: the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID), Doncaster Sheffield Airport, improvements to public transport and the motorway network to overcome constraints on development and making jobs accessible.
What will the Northern Powerhouse do for Sheffield Business Park?
If the Northern Powerhouse delivers the physical and social infrastructure to let the economy grow we are well placed at Sheffield Business Park to provide the opportunities for inward investment and business growth.
The University of Sheffield and AMRC have already developed Factory 2050 on our site and have plans to deliver a build out of their 50acre AMRC2 Campus in five to seven years.
Interest is also being shown from Original Equipment Manufacturers and their supply chains to co-locate with the AMRC at the nucleus of the AMID. This will not only have major benefits to Sheffield Business Park but also be a driver to the regional economy.
Has the Government done enough to convince you of its commitment to Osbourne’s vision?
Not yet but we should press on. The time is right to succeed and secure support to further devolution and funding if a coordinated strategy can be put forward to Government. We can all see how successful Manchester has been in recent years by adopting a coordinated but single minded approach and we need to follow that lead to secure the funding required.
Joining forces with Manchester et al will make the Northern Powerhouse successful and people will realise where we are located in the centre of the Country. Our aim should be to be globally recognised once more for what we do up North.
Connectivity has been a major driving force behind the Northern Powerhouse. Do you believe that spending billions on infrastructure will improve the economic climate in the North?
Absolutely, if we were in London the investment in major transport schemes would have been committed by now! A road tunnel under the Pennines could be 20 years away and Hs2 15, not to mention Hs3.
What are our early wins? A rail link to Doncaster Sheffield Airport making it 1 hour 30 minutes from London by rail, improvements to the existing motorway network and connections between local towns taking local traffic off the motorway junction pinch points, improved rail services between Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.
Has anyone been on the cattle truck service from Sheffield to Manchester lately? We need to give our talented workforce the opportunities and ability to move around the Northern Powerhouse and retain them in the region with higher paid second move jobs following graduation, rather than the brain drain migration to the other country known as London.
What, if any, other sectors/industries should the Government key in on to achieve a Northern Powerhouse?
We need to play to our strengths as a team. The Sheffield City region is already building on its past heritage and is now specialising in advanced manufacturing research and development at AMRC and the Olympic Legacy Park and work has started at Doncaster on the new Rail College.
The centrally located M18, M1 and M62 triangle can compete with the Lutterworth “Golden Triangle” and we have the ports of Liverpool and Hull together with Doncaster Sheffield airport. All these projects require their supply chains whether financial or physical. If the appropriate infrastructure can be delivered economic growth with follow.
Are there any other areas which you believe money should be spent on, ahead of transport?
Transport is the number one priority but working in public private partnership is number two. It will require a coherent partnership approach to make a difference and it is no good trying to be everything to everyone. Set the regions objectives, get the base priorities right including working closely with the region’s schools and universities to ensure people in the region are given the tools and ambition to start and finish the job. The difference over time will become self-evident.
As with Sheffield, should the other regions of Yorkshire try to strike a devolution deal with the Government?
Yes, but there is a need for joined up thinking between the City Regions making up the Northern Powerhouse. We need to be seen as one by the world not a collection of smaller areas doing their own thing. Get this right with appropriate devolution of powers and funding.
Will the Northern Powerhouse be realised in Yorkshire?
Yes, if political boundaries can be swept to one side and a common approach is found for the short, medium and longer term. This together with the commitment to an agreed funding strategy beyond the life of individual parliamentary terms (20 years plus) for key transformational infrastructure and economic projects will be the only way we will see a successful Northern Powerhouse.
Thank you Graham.